The Power by Naomi Alderman

As soon as I read the premise for this novel, I knew I had to give it a go. This story was literally marketed as “perfect for a fan of Margaret Atwood” … and I am definitely a fan of Atwood’s work. Another thing I found out about this author and this book that made me interested in reading it is that Margaret Atwood was this author’s mentor and had really loved this novel. What better endorsement could I ask for? So I got myself a copy… and now, here is my review:

The world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But on a day like any other, something has happened, something that will cause the lives of these individuals to converge. Teenage girls have developed an immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

The concept for this novel is absolutely brilliant. I love the idea of girls and women having an incredible ability, lying dormant in their bodies until something causes it to just come alive. And this novel is really a testament for how it only takes one to cause a revolution. The story is told from alternating perspectives where each of the characters mentioned here (and maybe some others) get a chance to tell the story from their point of view. There is only one male voice that is a main character: the rich Nigerian boy, Tunde. All of the other characters are female and they all have their own unique personalities that really comes through when they get their moment in the spotlight. I’m going to tell you right now: the strange power that females in this novel have is the ability to produce and channel electricity inside of their bodies. With this power, they can kill or hurt or shock anyone. Now, women are more powerful than men and they are using it to their advantage. The whole story is about reimagining the world: what would it be like if women were now in control instead of men? How would that takeover happen and how successful would it be? And the author really takes the time to answer this question through a multitude of issues from terrorism to politics to religion. I really appreciated the time and effort that went into cementing this concept. But this wasn’t really a story. It was more of a documentary or a research paper if anything else. In fact, this novel was shaped as a book proposal being submitted by someone named Nell to Naomi Alderman for review, which I thought was interesting … but also just made it less of a story and more research-like. The novel doesn’t allow for a great deal of emotional connection with the characters, and the story dragged on after the initial high-intensity chapters. There were a lot of cliché moments in the novel that took away from the novelty of it all. I guess I just wanted more story at times, and less of an explanation of the political situation. Overall, this was a fascinating concept and I liked a lot of the things the author had to say; I just wish the delivery of it all had been more story-like and less like a documentary. I’m giving this a 3/5 stars but really, the points are mostly just for the concept and the first half of the novel.

Happy reading ~

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Tarry This Night by Kristyn Dunnion

I’m always fascinated by cults and I always grab any book that deals with this subject matter so that it might help me understand the mentality behind cults better. What could possess people to give everything up and believe in one person who claims they know the future? What could cause people to wholeheartedly give in to a completely different way of life? These are just a few of the questions that I try to answer through fiction and non-fiction on this fascinating topic. Anyways, I stumbled upon this book and thought it would be a great read for me. Here is my review:

As a civil war brews in America, there lies a cult ensconced in an underground bunker, waiting for the conflict to end. Father Ernst is the leader of this cult, and his “Family” depends on him to guide them through this troubling time and into the period of Ascension promised to them. But when “The Family” runs out of food, one among them must go out and forage for supplies, leaving behind the rest to the madness of Father Ernst. Ruth is a young girl but she is soon to come of age. Terrified of serving as Ernst’s next wife, she must choose between obeying her faith and fighting for survival.

I thought this was a very interesting cult fiction with dystopian elements thrown into it. The summary is quite apt: there is a cult with its leader living in an underground bunker waiting out the civil unrest happening above ground, but tensions are high and they are on the brink of starvation. It’s the perfect setting for desperation to settle in and for something climactic to happen. I really liked that the story was told from multiple perspectives; it allowed us to understand the main characters better, while also showing us the situation they were in and how being a part of this cult had changed them. There are characters across all ages, each with their own unique experience and viewpoints. This is a gritty story that explores many different themes: the divide between blind faith and the ability to make one’s own choice, the loss of innocence, the desperation to survive, and the meaning of happiness and freedom. I really enjoyed the story but I just wish it had been longer! A longer story would have given more tension, and would have made me feel more satisfied about the ending. Overall, a really good story that I wish had been longer so that I could have enjoyed it more! 3/5 star rating from me!

Happy reading ~

A Matter of Oaths by Helen S. Wright

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I thought this would be an interesting read for me since I’ve never read a space opera. I’m always trying to give new genres a chance, and have enjoyed the opportunities I have received thus far. I thought I would try my luck here. Apparently, this novel was originally published in 1990, which was surprising to me. The version I read was newer, from 2017. Apart from the cover art, I don’t think anything has changed in terms of the story. But anyways… here is my review:

Commander Rallya of patrolship Bhattya thought she had a talent for making enemies–until she met Rafe. For no crime on his record, the young officer had been identity wiped, and his innumerable, now-forgotten enemies were still tracking him across the galaxy.

I don’t think space operas are my thing, as I really didn’t enjoy this novel. I don’t think there was anything wrong with the novel itself; it’s just another instance where the book and I didn’t match. I thought the characters were interesting and very unique: there’s a gay person of colour and an older woman who are the main characters of the story. I loved Commander Ralya’s sharp tongue and wit! However, I didn’t really like the writing style and I wish there had been more world-building so that I could better understand the context of the story. Since I wasn’t able to connect with the story, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I could have. I’m going to give this novel a 2/5 stars as a rating, but would strongly urge others to check out more reviews before deciding whether they should read this book or not.

Happy reading ~

The Final Book: Gods by SW Hammond

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book has been long overdue on my TBR list; I mean, it was published in June and I just got to it now. However, I was really excited to read this novel because of its connections to mythology. I love mythology and I’m always interested to see how authors will take stories and characters that we already know and incorporate them into a brand-new story. Here is my review:

In the beginning there was love. The Goddess of Life in an elated romance with a beloved mortal. Her sister killed him. Their combined actions ripping a hole in destiny and plagued mankind with an age of unprecedented corruption, vicious holy wars, and religious absolution.

Though long forgotten by the mortals they serve, Zeus and his Pantheon continue to foster and protect mankind which is tearing itself apart—but even God isn’t infallible. After failed diplomacy, the King of the Gods is left with no choice but to take the persona of a modern man—the famed genetic scientist Dr. Hork. In an effort to preserve the future by reshaping the past, Dr. Hork uses Project Genesis—the transfer of consciousness—to send subjects back in time. However, not without devastating failures. Subjects of the experiment wreak havoc upon humanity until a familiar character is reborn to correct the course.

Reincarnated and ready to fulfill his true destiny, Joshua Bach is the catalyst the Gods have been waiting for—and Dr. Hork’s final beacon of salvation. Ferociously idealistic, the free-spirited young man struggles to come-of-age in a time and society ruled by money and corruption. Under the wing of the Gods, Josh rediscovers his purpose, along with a love that can only be considered timeless.

I’m not going to give a rating for this book because I don’t think it would be fair (or accurate). This was a case where the book just did not work for me and I wasn’t able to finish the novel. The story started off interestingly enough but I couldn’t get into it and I felt like there was a lot going on for me. I think that the author actually did a really good job of taking the Greek mythological character and maintaining their personalities, even including little details. I think the reason this novel didn’t work for me was because there was just a lot going on. From cloning to theology, this book talks about everything. For me, that was a bit too much to handle. However, I want to mention here that this novel has gotten great reviews on Goodreads, reviews that will probably be more accurate. If you like Greek mythology and are looking for something deep and out of the norm, then this is the novel for you!

Happy reading `

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I’ll be the first to admit that this book is completely out of my comfort zone. I have never read a book about virtual reality. In fact, I’ve never even played a video game. It’s not like I have avoided these things on purpose. Growing up, my parents bought me a lot of books and dolls. But video games were thought to be for boys only. Plus, they were too expensive for an immigrant family to afford at that time. It didn’t help that I didn’t have many friends so I was always out of the loop on what was “in”. When I heard about this book, I thought it was interesting but also very weird. I mean, who would want to write a book about a video game? Clearly, this author. And clearly, this book has done so well that it is being made into a movie. So, in order to finally catch up with the times, I decided to give this novel a shot. Here is my review:

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. There’s not a lot of money and not a lot of food. Most of the population is homeless. The only time teenager Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself propelled into popularity. But with his fame comes a great danger: there are some players out there who will stop at nothing to win the ultimate prize – even if it means killing Wade. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

When I say this book was un-put-down-able, I mean it. I sat in my bed, thinking that I would read a few chapters and see how I felt about it. Before I knew it, I had finished the whole book and not taken a single break for anything. It was that entertaining! Even though I wasn’t born in the ’80s and have no experience with video games, I found it really easy to follow along. The author does a great job of explaining everything so you can really enjoy the story and understand all of the little references being made. Of course, if you are familiar with all of the cultural references from the ’80s that are made in this book, then you are probably going to enjoy this more! This is a pretty light-hearted story for all intents and purposes: Wade is a loner who finds an escape through the Oasis and this challenge that was presented by the eccentric creator of the Oasis. The adventures and obstacles were really fun to read about and you really see Wade growing up and developing as a character. I loved all of the other characters, as they each had their own unique part. While some people may have wanted a bit more realism and substance to this novel, I liked it because it didn’t have that. It was just such a good fun read! It had me excited, it had me laughing, it had me amped …. it made me feel like I was a part of this world that the author had created. I definitely had a great experience with this novel, and I’m giving it a 5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Paradox Bound by Peter Clines

I’ve never read anything by this author, but he is definitely well known for his other works. After hearing so many positive things about Clines’ other books, I decided to give this ARC a go. Here is my review:

Eli lives in Sanders, a town where nothing ever changes, a town that seems to be stuck in the past. So why doesn’t Eli want to leave? Whether he wants to admit it or not, Eli has been waiting – waiting for a mysterious traveler he met years ago. It isn’t often that you meet someone who’s driving a hundred-year-old car, clad in Revolutionary-War era clothes, wielding an oddly modified flintlock rifle—someone who pauses just long enough to reveal strange things about you and your world before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires. So when the mysterious traveler finally reappears, Eli is determined to get some answers. But his hunt soon yields far more than he bargained for, plunging him headlong into a dizzying world full of competing factions and figures straight out of legend. To make sense of the mystery at its heart, he must embark on a breakneck chase across the country and through two centuries of history­—with nothing less than America’s past, present, and future at stake.

The premise of this novel had me really intrigued and excited to read this novel. However, my actual experience with this book was … underwhelming. The story revolves around Harry, the mysterious stranger that Eli meets, as well as a host of other characters who are all looking for a very important thing: the American dream. And to do this, they are going through different time points in American history to find it. Now, I love a good time travel story, especially since the concept of time travel is not the easiest to write about. I quite enjoyed the jumps in time and how it forced the reader to pay attention to all of the little details in the book. However, I wasn’t so impressed with the characters. They were all just so bland and they really didn’t hold any interest. With such a whimsical story idea, I expect really fantastic characters that leave an impression on the reader. Even the villains weren’t as villainous as I was hoping. The entire time I was reading this novel, it felt like everything stopped just shy of being amazing. The pace was just short of gripping and edgy, the thrills and dangers were just short of being scary, the characters were just short of being charismatic, and the ending was just short of being satisfactory. While the premise and concept was interesting, I don’t think the execution was the best. This definitely wasn’t a memorable story, but it could have been. For that reason, I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars.

Thanks to Blogging for Books, NetGalley, and the publishers for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

Artemis by Andy Weir

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian, did so well that it was adapted to a movie. However, I neither read the book nor watched the movie. Why? Well, its not really my type of book. It’s kind of similar to my aversion to books on animals; it’s just not my scene. But this latest book had been getting a lot of notice, and its premise seemed different enough from The Martian that I felt it might be something I would like. Here is my review:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal. But she has her reasons. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is no cakewalk unless you’re working with tourists or an eccentric billionaire. By smuggling in harmless bits of contraband, Jazz is just trying to make ends meet. However, everything changes when Jazz is given the opportunity to make enough money to last her a life time. But pulling off this impossible crime is just the beginning of her problems, as she finds herself caught in the middle of a conspiracy to control Artemis itself.

The entire time I read this novel, it just had this very childish vibe to it. The crime and the consequences of it were serious, however it was delivered in such a childish, peppy manner that I couldn’t take it seriously. It was this weird mashup of a 1930s detective story with its mysterious characters and twists and turns, and some funny teen novel. And I didn’t really like it. I couldn’t get a handle on the mood or tone of this novel at all, and it just made everything seem like a big joke. Jazz’s character was also an issue for me. I have no problem with female characters who don’t act in a feminine way. However, it really felt as if the author was struggling to create Jazz. Every now and then, the author makes some really cringy assertion to make it clear that Jazz is a female. I also didn’t like the fact that Jazz talks to the reader sometimes in an attempt to add humor to the situation; it was just very awkward. None of the jokes were funny and the joviality of it all was just cringe-worthy. I didn’t actually mind the fact that the author included scientific information; I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know, and it wasn’t delivered in a heavy pedantic way. But the whole plot was just not intense enough for me to feel pulled into it and I really couldn’t care about anything in this novel. So far, I’m not really getting a great impression of this author’s work … but maybe, just maybe, when I have nothing left to read…. I’ll give The Martian a try. For now, this novel gets a 2/5 from me.

Happy reading ~

The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch

Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time because its premise is just the kind of thing I love. Here is my review:

Shannon Moss is part of a clandestine division within the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In Western Pennsylvania, 1997, she is assigned to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family and to locate his teenage daughter, who has disappeared. Moss soon discovers that the missing SEAL was an astronaut on the spaceship U.S.S. Libra – a ship presumed lost to the darkest currents of Deep Time. Moss knows the kind of trauma that can occur when you time-travel and believes that the SEAL’s experience with the future is what triggered this violence. Determined to find the missing girl and driven by a troubling connection from her own past, Moss travels ahead in time to explore possible versions of the future, seeking evidence or insight that will crack the present-day case. To her horror, the future reveals that it’s not only the fate of a family that hinges on her work…

I wanted so badly to love this novel. It had such a fantastic story line and I’m a sucker for strong female characters. However, this novel and I just didn’t work well. I found it a bit slow at times, which stopped me from really getting into the story. I also found that the way it was written was very confusing; there were too many details and names thrown out there and it became hard for me to keep track of everyone. And that was just in the first few chapters! I really liked the concept behind this story, and the tie-in with the mystery and science fiction elements. However, the writing style made this confusing and hard to get into. A lot of other people have read this book and have very positive reviews on it, so I would encourage anyone who is a fan of this author or who likes mysteries/sci-fi to give this novel a shot!

Happy reading ~

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

I will be honest here: I chose to read the novel because of its cover. It looked so interesting and beautiful and I just had to give it a shot. Now, I know I didn’t like Annihilation by this same author… but when has that ever stopped me from giving a book a shot? So here is my review:

In a city destroyed by drought and conflict, a young woman named Rachel tries to survive, scavenging through the ruins. The city is dangerous, littered with remnants of experiments gone wrong by the Company, a biotech firm now derelict. There is also a giant bear lurking around, attacking whomsoever it pleases. Rachel tries to make ends meet in a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick. One day, Rachel finds Borne and take him home. Borne is a mysterious green lump but there is something about Borne that grabs Rachel’s attention. Against her instincts – and against Wick’s wishes – Rachel keeps Borne and helps Borne grow. As Borne learns to speak and learns about the world, Rachel find herself feeling motherly feelings. She wants to protect Borne – even though she knows she can’t. But as Borne grows, he begins to threaten the balance of power in the city and to put the security of her sanctuary with Wick at risk. What Borne will lay bare to Rachel as he changes is how precarious her existence has been, and how dependent on subterfuge and secrets. In the aftermath, nothing may ever be the same.

The writing style may have been the same between Borne and Annihilation, but it worked for me here. This is a difficult novel to read because it is not only complex in its ideology, but also in the way it is written. It took me quite a bit of time to read and process this novel … but it was well worth the effort. Something that I found very unique about this book is that the author leaves the bigger picture vague; we don’t know all of the details that led to the ruined city. However, it is the emotions and the little things that the author expands upon. By doing this, he keeps the reader focused on the characters, as they grow, develop, and come upon their truths. The reader isn’t bogged down by useless details; everything that happens and everything that is described is relevant in painting this beautiful story. I loved the relationship that develops between Borne and Rachel, and I love how it affects various aspects of Rachel’s life, including her relationship with Wick. I wish I could say more but I don’t want to ruin the experience for others. Suffice to say, this novel is incredibly written and extremely deep. It is not something that you can read in a rushed manner; you have to take your time in order to go beyond the surface. This isn’t just a tale of survival; this is a story about identity and relationships. It is definitely a worthwhile read. 5/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

 

The Empress by S. J. Kincaid – Diabolic #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I remember when I read The Diabolic that I didn’t enjoy it and wasn’t planning on reading the next installment in the series. Well guess who received an ARC for the sequel??? That’s right, it was me. In order to ensure I was giving this book a fair review, I put aside my past assumptions and read it with an open-mind. So here is my review:

The Empire is finally changing. Tyrus has ascended the throne as Emperor, with Nemesis by his side. Tyrus has declared his love for Nemesis and his intentions in making her his Empress. Their visions for the new world is a positive one – it will be a place where science and information is shared with everyone, and creatures like Nemesis will be treated like humans. But having power isn’t the same as keeping it. Many of the ruling class are not happy with Tyrus and Nemsis, and will stop at nothing to ruin their plans. Nemesis plans on protecting Tyrus at any cost; he is the love of her life. But she can no longer act like the killing machine she once was; she needs to prove her humanity to the entire Empire. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must commit inhuman crimes, is it even worth the fight?

Since I had read The Diabolic, I knew to expect the novel to be more centered around romance than science fiction. I think that’s why I enjoyed this novel more than its predecessor; I no longer felt tricked because I knew what I was getting into. That being said, this novel had a lot of political intrigue and romance angles to it. I still preferred the political conflicts over the romantic ones. I also thought that the author brought in some interesting points on what it means to be human and to have empathy; it was quite philosophical and I enjoyed seeing the author bring these issues up in a teen novel. There wasn’t as much action or gore and I wish Nemesis had been a bit more of a badass killing machine. My overall verdict is that this novel is better than its predecessor but only because I knew what to expect and it had good political intrigue and philosophical questions. My rating is 2.5/5 stars, rounded to 3.

Happy reading ~